A topic for a term paper on "The Raven"

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Can someone please help me come up with a topic for a term paper on "The Raven". Any help is greatly appreciated.

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2000


Here is a topic for you. Write it on how Dark the poem becomes as it progresses through it. In the begining it is very light. At the end you get the felling of darkness and depression. You don't have to use this it is just a suggestion.

-- Anonymous, September 26, 2000


Unless you are required to submit a topic relative to the theme of the poem, you may wish to consider writing your term paper on how Poe constructed the poem itself. He goes into significant detail in his essay, "The Philosophy of Composition". It can be found on the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore website at http://www.eapoe.org . Thought to be written in mid to late 1844, it was published in early 1845 by the American Review and the Evening Mirror and is arguably the most recognized poem by an American author.

Good luck!


-- Anonymous, September 27, 2000

in response to the Philosophy on Composition, i find it difficult to believe that Poe wrote without much feeling. I agree that he may have come up with the conclusion first....the rest of the analysis......doubtful. perhaps you should look into the fact that Poe plagerised the entire poem, borrowing from earlier works? His suggestion that he came up with the words nevermore directly reflect a poem by hmmm let me think..i cant recall..so let me look it up and get back to you

-- Anonymous, September 28, 2000

aha! found it...

Try this compare and contrast "Faust" a play by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe a character named Gretchen laments

"My peace is gone, my heart is sore i find it and nevermore Where him I not have ther is my grave, this world is all turned into gall and my poor head is quite insane and my poormind is rent with pain. My peace is gone my heart is sore I find it never and nevermore."

(From the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces)

this stanza is repeated throughout the exchange.

Makes one wonder..... hmmmm?

-- Anonymous, September 28, 2000


In my proposal to Bob, the suggestion was intended simply as an alternative for him to consider. It was certainly not my intent to offer any conclusive statement or opinion relative to the validity or the sincerity of Edgar Allan Poes essay, The Philosophy of Composition. In fact, I merely mentioned the essays significant detail exclusive of any judgment or personal viewpoint towards its veracity. Presuming you have studied this essay, surely you must find it difficult to deny the depth of its specificity and attendant clarity.

The essay, in and of itself, may or may not be a factual representation of the schematic or formula by which Poe, step by step, created his poem The Raven. I too, have exercised some doubts on a point by point basis. But frankly, I see this issue as of little practical importance. Either way, it is not the schematic nature of this essay that interests me as much as the philosophical views he expresses in relation to general poetic principles. Your intimation that Poes essay suggested some lack of passion or feeling in the creation of his poetry is an interesting observation but one that I do not share. Perhaps this interpretation of yours is the result of the essays mechanical character or analytical nature. If there is any element lacking in Poes poetry, it was certainly not passion.

As to your amusing suggestion that I look into the fact that Poe plagiarized the entire poem, I thank you but, been there, done that! First and foremost, I might suggest you review Websters definition of plagiarize and secondly, I would suggest you use fewer absolutes such as entire. Being familiar with Goethe and in particular, his lifes long work Faust, the only comparisons to be made here are the theme and the word nevermore. In my view, the similarities are incredibly lacking and would require a jump in logic of extraordinary adeptness and agility.

While I would never suggest that Poe had no knowledge of this poem (song actually), I find it difficult, even obtuse, to capriciously assume that this work of Goethe is the source of the entire poem, The Raven. There are much better poems available that appear much more applicable to your suggestion of borrowing. According to Arthur H Quinn in his biography, Edgar Allan Poe  A Critical Biography, there is little doubt that the use of the raven was suggested by Charles Dickens Barnaby Rudge. Quinn also points out the similarities with Elizabeth Barrett Brownings Lady Geraldines Courtship. Poe dedicated his volume, The Raven and Other Poems to her with To the Noblest of Her Sex  Elizabeth Barratt Barratt and her reply of appreciation was utterly devoid of accusations of literary theft. Especially amusing is the consistent claims of plagiarism for any work of brilliance, regardless of the author.

That Faust was the inspiration for Poes use of the resonant word nevermore is just silly in the extreme. As Quinn points out, The choice of a refrain was also quite natural; he had already used it in Lenore and he knew its history in English poetry. Nevermore, or its variant No more was in the Sonnet to Zante and The Haunted Palace, and the sonorous quality of the long o was an old story with him. (page 441).

The magnificence and brilliance of The Raven was recognized immediately by Poes contemporaries, friends and foes alike, and has clearly stood the test of time. While I am confident that the use of the term nevermore was used by some poet, at sometime prior to Goethes Faust I am also confident that Goethe would not be accused of plagiarism. Europeans tend to celebrate their genius. We Americans .... makes one wonder.... Hmmmmm?

Best Regards,

-- Anonymous, September 28, 2000

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